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tv   Nancy Grace  HLN  March 28, 2010 10:00pm-11:00pm EDT

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a 4-year-old little boy vanishing from his own home. mommy at work. the live in baby sitting when the little boy goes missing without a trace. 1:00 p.m., broad daylight. a tip leads police, cadaver dogs to the body of a 4-year-old boy stuffed in a duffel bag. wooded area, just two blocks
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from the missing boy's own home. bombshell tonight. after an exhaustive 100-day search by land, by air, by water, spanning the city of newburgh and the hudson river, tonight, we are standing by for autopsy results and a positive i.d. on the little body. the person of interest? mommy's 30-year-old live-in who was already arrested for beating mommy's 14-month-old until he had contusions and a lacerated spleen. what does mommy do? she leaves her 4-year-old alone with him. now the 4-year-old's dead. and tonight, we learn mommy still has regular phone dates with him from behind bars. when asked about his part in the 4-year-old boy found in the duffel bag, she stands by her man, refusing to comment saying she doesn't want to be criticized. hello?
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is there any way mommy can go to jail, too? >> an autopsy was conducted today. at this point logic dictates that our investigation will take us, unfortunately, right to mr. byrd. >> after months of searching -- >> confirmed human remains. >> i'm not prepared for this. >> remains of a decomposed child. the cause and manner of death of that child is pending, waiting results of blood, tissue, and toxicological examinations. >> a 4-year-old boy found in a duffel bag. >> i would absolutely say he's a person of interest. >> mommy knows the live-in has a criminal history of attacks on children. >> he has a good relationship with mark. >> you left your son alone with a man that has a history of beating a child. >> it wasn't a history of
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beating a child. it was reckless endangerment. >> christina boucal is a good mom. >> you're telling me she's a good mom? she left the boy with the man that nearly killed her other child. >> corey byrd is in custody serving 15 months on a probation violation. >> he has thus far refused to speak to us. good evening. i'm nancy grace. i want to thank you for being with us. breaking news tonight, after an exhaustive 100-day search by land, by air, by water, spanning the city of newburgh and the hudson river, tonight we stand by for autopsy results and positive i.d. of a little body in a duffel bag. >> the remains of a child's body have been found in the woods, just blocks from his home. >> the body was secreted. >> chopper 12 was overhead as the discovery was made in these woods which newburgh police searched before. investigators want to know if the body was moved here in the
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last few months. >> do you think it was recently he was put there? >> we will attempt to examine the surrounding brush and dirt that the body was found on to try to determine if we can put a time frame as to when that body was put there. >> byrd still remains a person of interest by police. >> the mother defending the live-in, corey byrd, last known to be with this little boy alive. he's got a history of beating her children. why do you believe that he has nothing to do with the disappearance of this 4-year-old baby boy? >> if he was being abused or whatever, he would not go to that person. >> this woman has been traumatized. i've been to her house. her other children are well kept. the room is tidy, the house is clean. >> whoa, whoa, whoa, wait. >> she's concerned -- you know -- what, nancy --
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>> if she's a good mom -- >> i'm not here to defend her. >> you just did. you just did. >> we will pursue every investigative avenue that we have. >> straight out to rupa mikkilineni standing by there in newburgh where the child's body was found stuffed in a duffle bag. rupa, what's the latest? >> reporter: nancy, we're here in newbergh, new york, where we're awaiting the results of the autopsy which was conducted today. we're still awaiting the manner of death as well as the cause of death, which police have not released yet. we're also awaiting test results, dna test results, which will 100% confirm identity of the little boy. >> okay. this is something i don't understand. let me go out to doyle murphy, reporter with the "times herald record." doyle, you've covered so many cases, you and i both know that a positive i.d. can be made from dental records. did this mother never take the
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4-year-old do the dentist? they don't have dental records to compare? >> talking to the police today, they said they don't have any dental records. they said that it's not uncommon for a child that young, they don't have fingerprint records. they don't have anything to match it to right now. >> i want to go to dr. robert cartwright, an expert in his field, pediatrician, just what we need tonight. doctor, thank you for being with us. when children are born, they don't take fingerprints. they take a footprint, correct? >> that's right. >> and where is that recorded? >> it's generally just for the parents to have a record of the birth. it actually is not typically recorded in any official medical record. it's just more for fun actually. and typically, the quality of those footprints aren't good enough to use. >> dr. cartwright, dr. cartwright, please, no offense. i'm very familiar with all of your degrees, all of your honors and your rewards you have
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gotten, which are many, but frankly if you can get a fingerprint off a coke can or sliding glass door, believe me, a print taken in ink in the hospital would suffice. so doyle murphy, have they thought of comparing the print taken on the foot as a baby to the print on the body? or has mommy lost that? >> i've not heard anything about a footprint. i don't know what condition the body is in when they found it. police haven't said anything about that. i don't know what's possible at this point. >> actually, doyle, you're right. back to dr. cartwright, this child went missing around december 14th. now, granted there was a great deal of ice and snow, which is what hindered police from searching this area sufficiently the first time. at this point, the body would likely be so degenerated, they couldn't make even a fingerprint i.d. wouldn't you assume most of the soft tissue is gone? >> it really does depend on what temperature the body existed in
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over the last few months. i think if the body were in a duffel bag, rodents and other creatures couldn't get to the body to help decompose the process. help the decomposition process. so it's possible if the body is really frozen that there might be some actual remains that could be used. >> back to rupa mikkilineni there on the scene in newburgh where the little body was found stuffed in a duffel bag. rupa, have they made a connection as to the bag the body is toughed into to anybody? that they can't get a print off of it? they can't -- there's not a name on the inside of it? there's not fibers matching up to the carpet fibers in the apartment? >> reporter: nancy, right now, the police are not confirming the body was even found in a bag officially, but we have from our sources who have spoken to the mother that the bookbag the body was found in, it was either a
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bookbag or a duffel bag. she was shown a photo and she said it resembles a bookbag that used to be in her house. >> i want to go to dr. bethany marshall. we're taking your phone calls. we're standing by this evening. there at the scene where a little tiny body was stuffed into a duffel bag. police unofficially believe it is the body of 4-year-old marc anthony bookal. we covered his disappearance here last december. he went missing december 14. mommy left him at home with the live-in. dr. bethany, take a look at these photos. this is marc anthony bookal. and there is footage of police at the crime scene, cordoning it off after this gruesome discovery. this is what i know. back in '98, mommy left her 14-month-old at home with this man, the live-in, cory byrd. the baby ended up in the emergency room with a fractured skull, several contusions,
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broken ribs, perforated liver. his explanation was he left to go buy pot. he came back and the child was choking and he gave him the heimlich. many doctors told me that's absolutely impossible. what does mommy do after he nearly killed the 14-month-old? she leaves this 4-year-old, alone with the same live-in, slung up at the house all day long. and now the baby's dead. we caught up and found out today that mommy is still having regular phone dates with this guy from behind bars. he's behind bars on a probation violation. and she will not comment on her opinion as to his involvement in this. she says she doesn't want to be criticized. she's standing by her man. help me, bethany. >> as hard as it is to imagine, i wouldn't be surprised if she has malice towards her own child, if she resents the child, if she felt historically like he child was interfering in her love relationship with her
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boyfriend and if many times she watched her boyfriend denigrate the child and beat the child and encourage her to not feed the child and she became confused and she thought the child was the bad one and the beloved boyfriend was the good one. >> wait, wait, wait. this is a woman in her 30s. these children are hers. her duty, her joy, her obligation to take care of. and did i just hear dr. bethany marshall say she got confused and thought the baby was the bad guy? . >> pathologically confused. nancy, isn't that what you've seen? >> what is that? she's not crazy. she's not confused. she knows who the live-in is that she sleeps with versus the baby she gave birth to. >> it does not rise to the level of mental illness it's a personal disorder. >> bethany, i've always respected you up until right now. the mother is not confused. >> hang on. all the research says when a parent abuses the child, the parent feels the child is unconditionally bad.
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that is the mindset toward the child and we can't just say that he felt the child was unconditionally bad. she probably felt the child was bad, too, and she had malice herself. >> never mind, bethany. i wish i hadn't even asked you. i don't care what she felt. she left him alone with this man and now he's dead, the baby is dead. >> these remains were located in a wooded area off south coldon street, in the southeast corner of the city. this area is approximately one quarter of a mile away from where marc went missing. the body appeared to have been purposefully concealed.
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cory byrd claims the 4-year-old wandered away from the house. earlier that morning the two were seen on surveillance video. >> sources say the body of a little 4-year-old was purposefully concealed in a duffel bag. >> we have a body, a 4-year-old body two blocks from his home. that tells me a family member, a neighbor, somebody on the inside did it. >> earlier this year, marc bookal suffered burns to his hand which his mother claims is an accident. >> he has an extensive criminal background and part of that background is violence. >> the department of corrections says byrd served time for a sere incident that caused injury to a child. >> why do you believe he has nothing to do with the disappearance of this 4-year-old baby boy? >> he has a good relationship with marc.
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>> when i think of that 4-year-old, that photo we just showed you, of him sits up in the bed with his little fingers all in bandages from where he had been burned, god in heaven only knows what these children have been through. what hell their lives have been because of living with mommy and her boyfriend, cory byrd. we are taking your calls live. i want to go back to doyle murphy with "the times herald" standing by there in newburgh where the body was found stuffed in a duffel bag. doyle, give me in a nutshell what was cory byrd's timeline and what happened when little marc anthony bookal went missing? the 4-year-old little boy? >> i understand it was about 1:00 p.m., he allowed him to go outside to an aunt's house and apparently this happened
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countless times before, and when he goes to check on him ten minutes later or so he's not at the aunt's house, he's not anywhere. this is the story that he told police. >> that's the end of the story. he walks out around, you said, 1:30, to go on his own, a 4-year-old to the aunt's house and he's never seen again? >> that's it. disappeared off the block apparently. >> rupa, is that your understanding of cory byrd's timeline? >> reporter: nancy, yes, it is. the timeline is correct. there were a few more details since i did speak with christina bookal who spoke with cory byrd after he was arrested. the story he gave her, little marc got sick that day, had a stomach ailment and didn't go to school. >> says who? >> reporter: so cory byrd stays home -- says the mother. she knew he stayed home. >> how did i know he hadn't already been beaten? they did see him, correct?
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>> reporter: exactly. at 10:00. there's video surveillance. both were in a great mood. yeah. what cory byrd tells christina bookal, the mother, that he was watching television and marc wanted to go see his aunt who lives right literally next door just a few yards away. he said, wait for me and i will take you over there to your aunt's, the next thing you know, he looked up, got caught up in a television program, looked up, the back door was open and marc was gone and this was 1:00 and he called the police. >> it was 46 degrees outside, he let the boy just go outside to walk to the aunt's? >> reporter: that's what it looks like. >> he got caught up in a tv show at 1:00. what would that have been? what tv show is so important? soap opera? he couldn't watch the boy? >> reporter: well, the way that the house is set up, nancy, it's a two-story house. you walk in through the front door on to the upper level and go downstairs to where all the
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bedrooms are including the master bedroom and the children's rooms. i got a tour of the home. the master bedroom is where cory byrd says he was sitting on the bed or laying on the bed watching television. and the back door -- >> wait, wait. that leads me to my next question. did he work or just lay there on the bed all day watching tv? >> reporter: nancy, we're not sure if he worked, but that day he was not working and he was looking after marc. >> preliminary examination of those remains indicates that they are consistent with those of a small child. dddddddd
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as part of our ongoing investigation, the city of newburgh police department resumed the search for marc bookal. >> they searched the frigid waters of the hudson river. >> he doesn't wander off. >> they searched in the woods by the shore. >> he doesn't go to strangers. >> and through the dirt near a sewage treatment plant. >> i want my son to be found. >> a search for 4-year-old marc bookal that grows grim. >> the remains of what appears to be a child's body was found in the woods just blocks from
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his newburgh home. >> preliminary examination of those remains indicates they are consistent of those of a small child. >> remains hid l in a duffel bag according to sources. >> since we do not have any other reports of any other missing children in this city or in fact in any kind of a proximity that would lend credibility that this might be anybody else. >> honestly, i think there's some foul play involved. >> who's responsible for the murder of a cute and innocent 4-year-old boy? >> earlier in the afternoon, they had been in the bedroom that marc's mother shares with her boyfriend. her boyfriend, mr. byrd, was here falling asleep, had been watching television, maybe a movie then noticed at 1:00 p.m. that little marc had gone missing. he noticed this door was wide open and no marc. >> we are taking your calls live. unleash the lawyers. felony prosecutors specializing on crimes on children, eleanor
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odom, atlanta. veteran defense attorney renee rockwell and defense attorney peter odom, atlanta. first of all to you, renee rockwell, do you really believe that if this turns out to be the body of this 4-year-old child, marc anthony bookal, that mommy can also be charged? >> yes, of course she can, if she's got the knowledge he's been brutal and violent to her other children. not in the murder, nancy, but certainly some kind of endangerment or neglect. >> peter odom, you say no. >> i say for right now, nancy, we need to step back and identify the victim. this man has the right to due process, just like any other suspect. >> peter, peter, peter, what are you talking about? that's not even the question. every time i ask you a question, you start talking about due process and the constitution. look, we're all lawyers. we've all tried cases, we understand the constitution.
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guess what, pete? are you a 12-member jury in the correct jurisdiction? no. so there's no way you can possibly convict anybody. >> so let's not do it. let the process take its course and see what happens. it doesn't look good for him, i'll grant you that, nancy. let's just let things -- >> you went to three years of law school to tell me it doesn't look good for him. >> i remember every minute of it. they were all miserable. >> eleanor, let's speak practically. okay. if this is the child's body, we know the mother let the live-in come back into the home after beating the 14-month-old. >> right. >> lacerated, spleen, fractures to the head, they said ongoing child abuse. >> exactly. >> could she be charged with endangering a child? >> i think she could, nancy, especially if there was some abuse on this child she knew about and continued to let the boyfriend live in the home. you know, nancy, weren't we just saying the other day, a leopard doesn't change its spots? >> yes, we were. >> out to the lines, michelle,
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new hampshire. hi, michelle. >> caller: hi, nancy, thank you for taking my phone call. >> thank you for calling in, dear. what's your question? >> caller: my question is this little boy was burnt a few months before he was taken away and murdered, why didn't children services step in, especially after the 14-month-old was seriously injured? >> you know, that's an excellent question. let's go to the reporter with the "times herald record" joining us there in newburgh where the tiny body was found stuffed in a duffel bag. doyle murphy. doyle, what about it? how did the child burn his hands? >> that part's been left unclear. they said it was an accident. that's about as much detail as we've gotten on it. i don't know. everybody's seen the photos. you see him with his hands bandaged up and a smile on his face. we haven't gotten any detail or solid explanation for that. >> to dr. robert cartwright,
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pediatrician, renowned in his region, joining us tonight. dr. cartwright, isn't it true that when a doctor treats a child and suspects abuse, just like a schoolteacher that sees abuse, don't you have to report it? >> absolutely. it is a legal statute that you have to report it. whether you really truly feel like it's abuse or not or maybe it's just the possibility, you're responsible for reporting it and letting the authorities handle the outcome. >> dr. cartwright, i don't understand it. look at this photo. the child has a sticker on, he looks like he's in a hospital bed. not that photo, liz. there you go. the sticker right there. his little hands all bandaged up. with the history this live-in had of beating the hell out of the 14-month-old brother, i don't understand why the department of family children services wasn't called in on this. now the baby's dead, doctor.
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>> well, that is certainly the big question, obviously. i think if -- looking in hind sight it makes it real easy to think the doctors made a mistake. the nurses, whoever else was caring for him. at the time, maybe there was a legitimate story that seemed very plausible. in hindsight, it does look very bad. >> to pat brown, criminal profiler, author of "the profiler: my life hunting serial killers and psychopaths." pat, weigh in, please. >> we're looking at two people with personality disorders, two people who can lie really well to those doctors. that woman was not confused, here is the situation, as i see it. she got four presents for christmas, the big santa present and three stocking stuffers. they're all fine. if she had to throw away a few of them to keep one, she's keeping the big santa present. that's her boyfriend. >> that is a very creepy analogy, pat brown. but i get it. >> bill majeski, former nypd,
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now majeski associates inc. out of new york. bill, how do we link the duffel bag or anything else at the crime scene where the body was found that's clearly not where the child was killed? the child was killed somewhere else and that body was moved there. i don't care what police are saying right now. the body was moved there. >> a lot of things the police should be looking into at this point in time. did the boyfriend have access to a car? if he didn't have access to a car and only mobile by foot, that would give an indication why if he was involved, why the body was placed as close to the home as it actually was. the duffle bag itself, they're probably doing forensic analysis on that to try to determine where the bag came from, whether it was purchased locally. if it was purchased locally and the mother had indication it looked familiar to her, they may be able to place that duffel bag in the house. the other thing is they have to start doing more interviewing in terms of the people around the neighborhood. the children, themselves, should
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go through some type of strategic interviewing with those teams of professionals that know how to interview children to find out the explosive nature of this boyfriend. how often did he get angry, if at all when he was living at home with them? the three other children? another thing is going and talking to the inmates incarcerated with him, to see if he's leaked any information to them along the way. i'm sure the police are doing all of these things, as we speak. >> right. >> slowly, they're putting a solid case together and hopefully they'll conclude very soon. >> back to doyle murphy, "times herald record," doyle, you spoke with mommy and she refused to comment on whether the live-in was involved, saying she didn't want to be criticized. but we know that she's either visiting him behind bars or taking his collect phone calls. >> i know she has contacted him through family members of cory.
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i don't know how often that's been. she said she talked to his sister yesterday. but -- >> did you ask her if she thought he was involved, and if so, what did she say? >> i did ask her that. she said that she didn't want to say whether she thought so or not. she said, you know, that every time she said something like that, she said, it comes back on her, people are criticizing her and obviously, on this show, she's taken a lot of heat here. there's been no -- there's been no charges filed against her, so far as i know. it's tough. you take a lot of heat here. >> she wouldn't comment. >> rupa, i understand you know more about the child's burns on his hands? >> right, nancy. when i spoke with christina bookal the day i interviewed her after her son went missing, she told me that was a big mistake the police put out there about the burn marks on the hands of
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her child. she says it was nail polish remover and a lighter, the kids were playing and the older brother did this. police say that's not the case. >> after months of searching newburgh police moments ago just found human remains of a young child, believed to be the body of 4-year-old marc bookal. sources say the body of the 4-year-old was purposely concealed in a duffle bag.
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cory byrd is currently being held on a parole violation. he has an extensive criminal background and part of the background does include violence. >> honestly, i think there's some foul play involved. >> this is the door, the back door that leads to an alley. >> the psychology of a 4-year-old is not to run away from home and be gone for this long. >> which is what the mother's boyfriend says was wide open when he realized that marc had gone missing. >> my boyfriend went behind and he was gone, like a minute later. >> just walk away and nobody knows where he's at. marc is not going to do that. >> a sad ending to a desperate search. >> the state police cadaver dog team located what have been
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confirmed to be human remains. >> we are taking your calls live. let's go straight out to judy in new york. hi, judy. >> caller: hi, nancy, how are you? >> i'm good, dear, what's your question? >> caller: my question is with this mother, why weren't there any social workers involved? >> you know, that's a great question, judy in new york. rupa, everyone is talking about will she be charged in this case? what happened in '98 when her 14-month-old was nearly beaten to death at the hands of this guy? >> reporter: that's right, nancy. everyone keeps questioning whether or not she'll be charged. she was charged in 1998. granted, it was with misdemeanor child neglect charges. so she only did three weeks in jail and one year probation, but she was still charged. why wouldn't she be charged this time around? >> and where was dfcs? after that event, shouldn't they have been following them all along? >> reporter: nancy, this is a great question, and this is where we're a little fuzzy. i mean, i do know that police indicated to me that cps at
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least did investigate to some extent the burns on marc's hands, and they determined by interviewing the older brother, the older brother denies this nail polish/lighter story. in fact, the only other adult in the house at the time the boy was burned was cory byrd. >> to doyle murphy with the "times herald record," you indicated when you spoke to the mom, she didn't want to take a stand one way or the other on the live-in's involvement because she didn't want to catch heat. and you said like she's catching tonight on this show. mr. murphy, why shouldn't she catch heat? she left her son, a defenseless 4-year-old, alone with a man that nearly beat a 14-month-old to death. >> it could turn out to be, you know, if it turns out to be that he's the one that did this or somehow involved, or she should have known better, then fine. but right now, nobody really knows anything.
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it's -- i mean, they call it -- newburgh here, they call it news-berg, because rumors spread so fast through the streets. it's rampant. these are tough streets here. if people make up their mind on something, it can be tough on someone. >> to clark goldband, our producer on the story. clark, here's the reality. the mom left the 4-year-old. i'm talking to clark goldband, elizabeth. the mom left the 4-year-old with a man that nearly beat her 14-month-old to death in 1998. now, either he killed this child, the 4-year-old, or he didn't watch the child and he went outside and got murdered. those are the two choices. >> yes, nancy. those questions were actually brought up at a press conference that concluded shortly before we came to air this evening. the question was, who are your persons of interest? law enforcement named one, nancy.
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that's cory byrd. the follow-up was is there someone else you're looking at? and the chief of p.d., there, nancy, says in fact at this stage in the investigation they're seeing corey bird as their only poi and from what he said seems more may happen on that. now, nancy, i can also tell you, law enforcement also taking away some brush from the area that bag had been found, possibly trying to find some more information on that brush. law enforcement also making a plea, nancy, if anyone saw anything in the area to please call them. they need that one tip that will crack this wide open. >> back to the lines, beth in california. hi, beth. >> caller: hi, how are you doing? >> i'm good, dear. what's your question? >> caller: my question is why are all these young women standing beside the perpetrator every time we see an innocent child come up missing? >> beth, good question. i'm not a shrink, but luckily i have one on the show tonight.
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dr. bethany marshall joining us out of l.a. what about it, bethany? >> beth, what we -- >> and, please, don't tell me mommy was confused, okay? you gave me angina. you made my teeth hurt. >> what i can say is women who stay with men who molest their children, beat their children, men who commit other crimes, women who fall in love with men who have a criminal history or who have been in jail, they always have a refusal to put their thoughts together about the reality of what is happening in their relationship. what we see with this woman is she thought her boyfriend was god and god can do no wrong. >> to dr. robert cartwright, pediatrician, joining us from our atlanta studios tonight. dr. cartwright, i was reading some of the files on when the 14-month-old went to the hospital. and the files said there was ongoing child abuse. now, how do you look at a child's body and know that the child has been abused in the
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past? >> well, you can certainly see signs of old bruising, you know, fresh bruises have that, you know, bright bluish color and they start fading over time. probably more what they saw was evidence of skeletal issues. you can see fractures in various stages of healing in certain x-rays could show there may be old fractures which would indicate a chronic history of abuse. >> what do you advise to mommy and corey byrd, the live-in? >> first of all, they need to quit talking on the phone. and i would be very careful if i was corey byrd's attorney to tell him not to be talking to any of the jailhouse folks that are next door that would obviously rat him out. >> what about it, peter? >> absolutely. keep your mouth shut. it's the advice that we give to all our clients. but it's almost always ignored. 
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